This face inspired my story. Actually this face inspired me into bringing music back into my life.
My son Kobi is spending the year in Israel studying Judaism. I miss him, yes, of course. But I now understand how we can be happy just seeing someone we love happy. Missing Kobi is lessened GREATLY by seeing his joy. It fills me up.
I’ve seen my son happy before. There’s something different now. He seems lit up from the inside, like something caught fire in his soul. It seems to rush out of him like a wellspring or a waterfall from the inside out.
What is that? I mused over it for several weeks. So lovely to see light from people’s souls rush out through their being.
And then one day, while washing the dishes, I remembered….I have that joy. I know that face. Inside me. It’s….
I need to back up just a little.
I love music, love to sing, dance, listen, clap along, lead other people, or be led by others, in singing. I even “sign” music, meaning I enjoy translating and signing the lyrics of songs into American Sign Language.
I used to not be able to sing. At all. I was really not good and accepted that I could never sing. Truthfully, a recurring nightmare for years was that I would be auditioning for a part in a play and they would suddenly tell me I have to sing. 😱😱😱 Oh NOOOOO! I’d be SOOO embarrassed and ashamed… I COULD NOT SING.
About three years ago, I decided to try… I don’t know why. I think maybe I just decided life is life… give it a go… a driving wish… What’s failure but a chance taken?
It was a long shot. BUT …. soon after, I went to a karaoke, and somehow somehow got the nerve somehow to stand up and sing “Twist and Shout” by the Beatles. I think I invited everyone in the club to sing with me and pretty quickly the entire room was singing and dancing along and a stranger jumped up, grabbed a mike, and sang back up to my lead. 😍 This was EXHILARATING! (Oh my other little dream was that I’d be a singer in a rock n roll band). I mean my other little fantasy. A dream means there is some basis in reality. Mine didn’t have basis.
Anyhow I decided, look, why not? I’m going to give it a real try. I will take singing lessons and sing every day for ONE YEAR. Even if it’s just for 5 seconds, that counts. After one year, I can quit…but no matter how bad I am, I am going to stick with it for one year.
I found a singing teacher, she interviewed me, I interviewed her, she tested me out, and she agreed to teach me. I had rhythm and could basically sort of keep a tune. But my tone, meaning my voice? Not good.
I went to two lessons with my wonderful new teacher. I loved it and her!!! After my third lesson, I received an email from her! What wonderful thing might she say to me? 💜💜
Aaaaaannnd? She told me to find another teacher. She gave me a general link to singing teachers in my state. Basically, she fired me. 😱😱😱 Yes, I was devastated. As quickly as my fantasy became a dream, that maybe I could learn to be a good enough singer, it was dashed. 😳 My goal had been to get just good enough to sing as a “leader” and invite other people to sing along and have a great fun time. I felt like I could do that if I could just sing okay. Crestfallen, I accepted, with the light draining out. No. This won’t be.
Within a couple of hours, the light dimly started teetering on, and I allowed the possibility that I could try again.
Long story short, I did. I found another teacher, my good friend’s young 20 something nephew and was off to the races again! I was not good. Really not good. But I listened to his instructions, and practiced every day if only for 30 seconds, and some days for longer. And…?
I got worse and worse.
I told myself, remember you only have to do this for one year. You can quit after a year. Just stick with it for now. I also told myself and I believe this is true, we often get worse before we get better because we are experimenting with new and sometimes difficult techniques.
My (very honest) delightful singing teacher, young Andy, would tell me in nice but direct ways how I was doing… which was barely eeking along. And then soon into the lessons, he started being a little shocked that I was getting significantly better. I was a little shocked too. I believed him because he had been painstakingly honest about my singing challenges 🥴🥺. I did take it as a sassy challenge being told through the years (not by Andy) that I couldn’t learn. I kept getting better, sometimes in dribs and drabs, and other times in leaps and bounds.
I ended up getting a singing gig!! It was amazing, a dream come true and SO MUCH FUN!
Well, really the “gig” was I volunteered at my (ex) mother-in-law’s assisted living residence and I led the senior residents in songs….Hello Dolly, Grand Old Flag, King of the Road… Some slept, some sang, some chatted. Fulfilling my rock star dreams, they would ask, when is “that girl” coming back? Amazing! 🥰
To bring it to almost present, I continued singing ever since, about three years now, taking lessons on and off, joining a wonderful choir (a non-denominational Gospel choir which is incredibly joyful), singing in some open mikes, and even performing a bit with other musicians.
Which brings me now to this story.
Covid hit. Choir stopped. In-person singing lessons stopped. Assisted Living gigs stopped. My little duet with my wonderful guitar playing friend which was about to take off stopped. All my collaborative singing ideas, plans, dreams STOPPED.
I began writing (this). I love it! But no singing. About a month ago, it came to me out of nowhere, just sing. By yourself. Put a camera on you, sing an easy song for others to join in on, sing, and post it. Don’t worry about why or if or good enough or anything. Just do it.
I didn’t do it.
Too out there. Too scary. How ridiculous.
…And then one day, while washing the dishes, I remembered….I have that joy. I know that face. Inside me. It’s….
MUSIC! It’s singing and inviting others to sing along. That joy I see on Kobi’s face… I know it. I recognize it. It’s the same way I feel when I sing especially with other people.
But, they didn’t save me. They each thought it was a good, actually a great idea.
You have to be kidding?!!
But then I asked another, a tough cookie friend, who spares no pleasantries in her directness. She also thought it was a go. And one more. Also a big yes.
I do wonder…that joy I see in Kobi’s face, that I remembered from inside me and have recently brought back to life with singing…we all have it right?
Yes. I believe it. How do we find our joy? And find expression for it?
My best answer is asking G-d, what do YOU want of me? It frees me up so much. When I try to analyze what I want…what makes me happy,…what…what…what…it can be so confusing.
When I ask G-d, what G-d wants of me….then just trust the answer will come…it does. “Sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly”.
That’s all. Here are a few of my singing samples. The first song (with the cartoon singer) is me when I began singing several years ago. Listen, it may give you a (good natured) laugh. My “badness” brings home hope…that we can do things we never thought possible. Not that I’m great now. But I think you’ll agree… I am certainly better.
Then I have a more recent song, and finally two “sing-a-longs” sung in Hebrew, American Sign Language, and even a little Israeli Sign Language.
Laugh, listen, sing, sign along, whatever suits you.
Once again, I’ve stayed up quite late. Laila Tov (that’s good night in HEBREW). I love you my readers, listeners and special appreciation to my singer-a-long-ers, Vivi 💖 ©
**I DO NOT OWN THE RIGHTS TO THESE SONGS.
SONG #1: My “singing debut” of “FIGHT SONG” is the one where you get to laugh at me (but be nice!) 😳😳Young wonderful Andy was very patient; G-d smiled on me connecting me with this talented young man. PLEASE DON’T STOP at SONG #1! PLEASE LISTEN FOR AT LEAST 15 seconds TO SONG #2 … I SHARE THIS TO SHOW HOW MUCH WE ALL CAN GROW BEYOND WHAT WE THINK.
**LYRICS to “FIGHT SONG”: This is my fight song, Take back my might song, Prove I’m alright song. My power’s turned…”)
SONG #2: “FEELING GOOD” below is from this past spring 2020. Thank you to my FANTASTIC singing teacher Ben-Aviv Tam who has been a Godsend. He was also the driving force inspiring me to write this blog! Though he’s urged me to do a “proper song recording”, I’m nervous and so far still prefer walking/singing on the EMPTY beach. Lol.
**LYRICS to “FEELING GOOD”: Birds flying high, you know how I feel, Sun in the sky, you know how I feel, Breeze drifting on by, you know how I feel, It’s a new dawn, a new day, a new life, and I’m feeling good. Fish in the sea, you know how I feel, River running free, you know how I feel, Blossom in the tree, you know how I feel, It’s a new dawn, it’s a new day).
HEBREW & ASL SONGS: The next two videos are:
1. HAVENU SHALOM ALECHEM הבאנו שלום עליכ in Hebrew and ASL
2. SHALOM CHAVERIM שלום חברים in Hebrew, ASL, and a bit of Israeli Sign Language.
🥰 If you think your friends might enjoy this, I’d love you to share! And please feel free to add your comments below. 💖 Come back and visit!
Bat Productions: Ben-Aviv Tam, linked here, is a musician through and through. Originally from Israel, Ben-Aviv served as commander of the Israel Defense Forces army troupe, producing and arranging hundreds of the troupe’s performances. Now in the U.S., he produces top quality recordings in his studio as well as continuing his work as a Composer, Arranger, and Performer.
Shimona Tzukernik is an extraordinary Torah teacher and mentor. From her I learned to ask What does G-d want of me? Here is a link to her site which offers a wide array of learning opportunities, something for everybody.
DPAN.TV The Deaf Professional Arts Network’s initial goal was to make music and music culture accessible to the Deaf and hard of hearing. D-PAN has been a pioneer in creating American Sign Language (ASL) music videos. Here is a link to their ASL music video collection.
Alcoholics Anonymous (AA): Sometimes slowly, sometimes quickly is referred to in AA’s promises for recovery (p 84 in PDF here). AA “is an international fellowship of men and women who have had a drinking problem … Membership is open to anyone who wants to do something about his or her drinking problem.”